Fourth thriller by Balling (Champion, 1988, etc.), this time focused on the Second Coming rather than on Nazis or 12th-century knights and ladies. Recently discovered in Samaria are scrolls and some mummified flesh and bone relating to Simon Magus (or Simon the Magician), a contemporary of Jesus who converted to Christianity. The scrolls, it seems, hold an incantation that needs the actual skin to work its magic. In a Harvard lab, young Allison Reese is checking the DNA in the flesh. When televangelist Bobby Jordan hears of all this, he sends his son and another heavy to get the skin, and the two leave Allison comatose. Meanwhile, Michael Beretta, in still another effort to recover the skin, is dispatched by Opus Dei, the CIA of the Vatican, to recruit help in breaking into Bobby Jordan's island paradise and fabulous DNA laboratory on Miracle Isle off the coast of Maine. First, Beretta enlists Lara Brooks, a DNA specialist with a prosthetic leg who's also the sister of a Jesuit priest, to go undercover and hire on at Miracle Isle. Then, since Miracle Isle is installing a supercomputer, he ropes in Allison's father to get technical training and then masquerade as a computer expert. Can John Reese break into hidden files about the DNA? Also sneaking onto Miracle Isle is Allison's former Japanese coworker Kenji Hamada, son of a top yakuza godfather. Kenji proudly tells his father that the skin contains a new gene that resists cellular senescence and that he needs his help in recovering it. Even more far-out: Bobby Jordan realizes that the relic is nothing less than a finger from the right hand of Christ—and that the Second Coming is promised when his Maine lab breaks down two new genes in the finger and fertilizes virginal Mary Joplin with them. . . . Strong start, and then a good idea dissolves in thuggery and gunfire.
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